Global Core

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The Global Core is a Core Curriculum requirement that replaced Major Cultures in 2008.


Under the original Major Cultures requirement, Columbia College students had to take 2 approved courses in non-Western cultures. The approved courses were grouped into African Civilization, East Asian Civilization, Middle Eastern Civilization, South Asian Civilization, and South American Civilization. They were then sub-divided into List A courses (introductory), List B courses (more depth), and List C courses (impact of the cultural traditions in the U.S.) Students had to either take two List A courses, in any of the civilizations, or a List A course and either a List B or a List C course in the same civilization.

In its current incarnation, the Global Core requirement simplifies this process, requiring two of any class on the list of approved courses, regardless of their relationship to one another. Eventually, Global Core classes are supposed to be reformed into in-depth seminars with the same rigor as Contemporary Civilization or Lit Hum, modeled on the likes of the African Civilizations or Asian Hum seminars.


The De Bary Report of the 1980s recommended Major Cultures develop seminar classes in various non-European textual traditions. Since that time, Major Cultures included a number of such classes (including the vaunted Asian Humanities and the slightly less laudable African Civilization) but otherwise evolved into a distribution requirement involving mostly lecture classes culled from the lists of various departments.

The 2007 hunger strike resulted, provisionally, in the administration's promise that Major Cultures may be reformed into a single mandatory seminar-style class. Officially, the university was only "seeking new syllabi" from departments traditionally involved with the requirement. The administration noted that a $50 million fundraising drive would be required to implement this scheme.

With the 2008 announcement of the reform of Major Cultures as the Global Core, some believed that the requirement was finally on track to return to the De Bary Report's recommended dedicated seminar format. In fact, it was unchanged: the name change was only a uniform branding, bringing Major Cultures under the tent of the Global University (not unlike Reid Hall—now the Paris global center—, in that it repurposed something that preceded it).